Fraudsters are continually adapting and learning new skills, meaning new types of fraud and scams emerge all the time. This evolving kind of mobile phone fraud is an example of that.

Here’s how mobile phone fraud could play out:

  • Criminals try to get a glimpse of the passcode you use to unlock your phone and banking apps. Usually by looking over your shoulder as you use your phone in public.
  • Then they’ll attempt to steal your phone by pickpocketing or taking it from your bag or coat. They may even resort to more violent crimes to get your devices from you.
  • Once stolen, criminals will try to access any financial apps and personal information on your phone with the intention of stealing your money.

The issue here is that many people use the same passcode to unlock their phone as they do to access their financial apps. They may also store passwords in the notes section of their mobile phone.

Once they’ve got access to your financial apps, fraudsters can drain your funds by making payments from your account. And if they’ve learned your personal information and passwords, they could go on to impersonate you and take out loans in your name.

Ways to try and protect yourself

  • Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you're doing mobile banking.
  • Make sure you don’t use the same passcode for financial apps as you do to unlock your phone.
  • Use biometrics like face recognition and fingerprint ID if you can.
  • Use a different, strong password for every account you have – ideally with special characters, numbers and lower and upper case letters.
  • Don’t store passwords or passcodes in your phone. You could use a password app if you need to, but you need to protect it as best you can with a strong password.
  • Don’t keep your passwords, passcode or PIN details in the same place. For example, written down on something you keep in your bag.
  • Turn on automatic app updates. Then you always have the latest and safest version of the app.
  • Triodos Bank employees will never ask you for your passcode. So never give it away.
  • When using Wi-Fi, make sure you use a secure Wi-Fi connection.

Your phone could be accessed remotely

Criminals don’t always need to steal your actual device to get your financial information and personal details. They can hack smartphones and tablets in the same way they do with computers and laptops: by installing viruses and malware.

Many people think that viruses and malware don’t affect smartphones, but this isn’t the case. Criminals can rip information from smartphones and tablets in the same way. It can often start with an unprompted email, message, or pop up asking the person using the device to select the link or download software. Doing so can launch the virus or malware which is designed to target personal information and financial apps.

Don’t assume that the brand of device you use protects you either. Just because it’s a widespread brand doesn’t mean that it’s immune to malware. And it’s not just emails that could release malicious malware. They could come from social media posts you click on and websites you visit.

To protect yourself, download anti-viral and malware software or apps on your device. Make sure it’s from a trusted brand. If you’ve got anti-virus software for your computer or laptop, chances are you can use it for your smartphone or tablet too.